Our internal communication, and in particular with regard to the treatment we reserve for ourselves, conditions our mood to a large extent. We are therefore talking about a way that can sink us when we mistreat ourselves, but that can also save us from adverse circumstances when we treat ourselves with affection.
Last update: 14 March, 2020
How we choose to deal with negative thoughts affects how we perceive ourselves and how we interpret what is happening around us. This also affects our behavior under certain circumstances. For example, if I constantly think that a business presentation will go wrong, it is possible that that insecurity is preventing me from doing as well as I would have expected.
Aaron Temkin Beck, US psychiatrist, argues that negative thoughts are saboteurs of the best part of ourselves and that if we do not learn to control them they end up creating a situation of insecurity, anxiety and anger which in turn generate new negative thoughts automatically. . A vicious circle from which it is not easy to get out, in which negative thoughts are repeated continuously.
In a way, they turn into a snowball that rolls faster and faster, getting bigger and bigger, until it goes off the road. They become obsessive, they absorb our energy. How can we stop them?
Coping with negative thoughts is one way to communicate
Communicating with ourselves or, to put it in other words, our inner language (commonly referred to as thinking) is an ongoing conversation with our being, with ourselves. And this conversation we engage in affects the way we relate to the world around us, while telling us a lot about how we treat ourselves.
Consequently, the language we choose towards ourselves (thoughts) is a form of communication, as is having a conversation with someone.
In the inner language there is a wide range of thoughts, both positive and negative. Our mind lingers longer on what we value most and what we spend the most time on. Like this, those negative thoughts can gain more and more ground, like passengers who enter our mind and do not let any other kind of thought flow.
We must keep in mind that mistreating oneself has the same effect as mistreating someone close to us. For example, if a family member repeatedly told us that we are stupid, useless and that we are good for nothing ... How would we feel?
It must be said that the feeling of discomfort caused by a person who gives us negative comments can be equivalent to when we address those comments to ourselves. They turn into obsessive and continuous thoughts, which deprive us of energy.
How to deal with negative thoughts?
The University of Rhode Island has published a research study in the journal Pshychology and Aging aimed at finding out how negative thoughts tend to affect us at each stage of life.
The results show that it is not age that matters, seeing as these thoughts they generate distress and are often the cause of many diseases, both for young people and for people in old age.
The discomfort and frustration caused by the negative emotions aroused by this thought pattern can open the doors to anxiety and depression, if prolonged over time. For this reason it is essential to learn how to manage them. Below, we will tell you about some ways to combat negative thoughts.
Identify negative thoughts
Sometimes perhaps we are not aware of our beliefs and of all that they cause in us. Sometimes we even think that they are established and we believe it, when the reality is quite different.
So, for a more precise identification you could try to take note of your most recurring negative thoughts. What do you say to yourself, how do you say it to yourself and in what situation? Putting it in writing can then help you make a better analysis.
Once this is done, reflect on the path of these thoughts, where they originate from, how recurring they are and what the consequences could be, as would an outside observer. If a friend confessed to you that they have these negative thoughts, what would you tell them? Having another point of reference can help us see things from another point of view.
At the same time, just as it is important to identify denied thoughts, it is also important to accept them. Accept that they are needed in certain circumstances. Let's not forget that in certain moments constantly trying to block them, avoid them and eliminate them creates a boomerang effect.
Rework your thinking
When you have identified them, you could try to shuffle those thoughts to start little by little to make them more realistic and positive. So ask yourself:
- How else could these thoughts be interpreted?
- Could there be other interpretations, more realistic, logical and positive? It may help to rephrase them into a list.
Having questioned each negative thought, it is time to introduce others, equally valid in a given situation, but more positive, realistic and more adaptive. The goal is not to eliminate negative thoughts, but to perceive them according to another approach and learn to question them to lose ground in our mind.
Learning to deal with negative thinking takes time, practice, and persistence.
Strengthen your self-esteem
In some cases low self-esteem gives rise to negative thoughts, the result of insecurity and a sense of helplessness. For this reason, continuous doubts arise about us and about what we do, which is a magnet for thoughts of this type.
A good starting point might be to ask ourselves what idea we have about our person (self-concept) and whether this affects the type of thoughts that grip us.
It is about listening to our negative thoughts, as we would do with our best friend: with patience, with affection, trying to respond to those thoughts in a rational, positive way, dismantling the possible cognitive distortions into which we may have fallen.